Children's Christmas Dinner Party History
The Philadelphia Martin Luther King, Jr. Association for Nonviolence,
Inc. sponsored its 1st Annual Children’s Christmas Dinner Party for underserved
children from the Philadelphia and surrounding areas at the Wyndham Franklin
Plaza Hotel, 17th and Race Street on Sunday, December 19, 2004. The Association
had targeted to accommodate 1,800 to 2,000 children, however, over 4,000
children attended and the hotel overwhelmingly did not reject any of these
The idea and concept of a Christmas party for homeless and disadvantaged
children was conceived and established over ten years ago in Washington, DC by
Mr. William Tucker, Vice Chair of the Bethune Dubois Institute (a King
Association affiliate) and Board Member, Philadelphia Martin Luther King, Jr.
Association for Nonviolence, Inc. Many prominent personalities from the White
House, other U.S. agencies, corporations and the professions have been on hand
to share this joyous celebration with the children including, Mayor Anthony
Williams, Dr. Dorothy I. Height and Mrs. Alma (Colin) Powell.
In 2003, the tenth anniversary, the Bethune DuBois Institute hosted over 3,000
children in the ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel from Washington, DC,
Maryland and the Virginia areas. Each child received a gift distributed by the
U.S. Marine Corps: Toys for Tots, took home a goody bag, received a surprise
visit from Santa, and was treated to a festive Christmas pageant while they
feasted on a full course turkey dinner.
In 2004, Ms. Diane Cauley, former Human Resources Director at Wyndham
Franklin Plaza Hotel, challenged Mr. Tucker to bring the Christmas Party to
Philadelphia with the task of targeting disadvantaged children in the area.
Diane approached the General Manager of the Hotel to be the 2004 Corporate Host
Sponsor and the hotel graciously accepted. At the event we expected to host
1,800 children, however, over 3,800 children showed up and we were miraculously
able to feed and give a toy to each one. The hotel management was so delighted
as they closed hotel restaurants and set up tables even in the lobby to
accommodate the children.
For many children this event has been their first total Christmas experience.
They have been treated to a full course Christmas dinner, a special Christmas
program that embodied the meaning and spirit of Christmas and gifts/toys with
surprise visits from special Christmas characters, Disney Characters and Sesame
Street Characters. There was a special performance by recording artist, Tina
“J” and Tamia “J” who lead the children in Christmas Carols and also Kim Sledge
of “Sister Sledge” and others. The ballroom is usually beaming with Christmas
decorations made into a magnificent winter-wonderland.